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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Imr-al-Kais
Description of a Mountain Storm
Arabic Literature
 
From the most celebrated of the ‘Mu ’allakât,’ that of Imr-al-Kais, ‘The Wandering King’: Translation of Sir Charles James Lyall

O FRIEND, see the lightning there! it flickered and now is gone,
  as though flashed a pair of hands in the pillar of crowned cloud.
Now, was it its blaze, or the lamps of a hermit that dwells alone,
  and pours o’er the twisted wicks the oil from his slender cruse?
We sat there, my fellows and I, ’twixt Dárij and al-Udhaib,        5
  and gazed as the distance gloomed, and waited its oncoming.
The right of its mighty rain advanced over Katan’s ridge;
  the left of its trailing skirt swept Yadhbul and as-Sitar:
Then over Kutaifah’s steep the flood of its onset drave,
  and headlong before its storm the tall trees were borne to ground;        10
And the drift of its waters passed o’er the crags of al-Kanân,
  and drave forth the white-legged deer from the refuge they sought therein.
And Taimá—it left not there the stem of a palm aloft,
  nor ever a tower, save ours, firm built on the living rock.
And when first its misty shroud bore down upon Mount Thabîr,        15
  he stood like an ancient man in a gray-streaked mantle wrapt.
The clouds cast their burdens down on the broad plain of al-Ghabit,
  as a trader from al-Yaman unfolds from the bales his store;
And the topmost crest, on the morrow, of al-Mujaimir’s cairn,
  was heaped with the flood-borne wrack, like wool on a distaff wound.        20
 
 
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